Publication - FOI/EIR release

Sea lice level related questions of fish farm site Burwick: EIR release

Published: 20 Jan 2020

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Published:
20 Jan 2020
Sea lice level related questions of fish farm site Burwick: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02667
Date received: 16 Dec 2019
Date responded: 17 Jan 2020
Information requested

You requested some specific information with respect to the subject area of ‘sea lice levels’ in relation to the fish farm site West of Burwick (FS0937) operated by Grieg Seafood Shetland Ltd (FB0440) with respect to 2019. Specifically you are seeking information and answers to the following questions regarding operational processes relating to the regulation of sea lice by Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate:

1) Please explain why there is a variance in the data published by the FHI as at 31st Aug and 29th Sept?

2) Why was the sea lice count of 10.8 not included in the earlier published version of the report for Week 32? Yet the following two weeks did have data present

3) Can you confirm that West of Burwick salmon farm withheld the sea lice count of 10.8?

4) On what date was the FHI first notified of the sea lice count of 10.8 for Week 32?

5) Why were the sea lice counts for the following weeks 33/34 also subsequently amended?

6) Please provide copies of the information that the FHI received that allowed the sea lice counts to be amended in weeks 33/34

7) What steps did the FHI take to establish how the operator reduced the sea lice count from 10.8 in week 32 to below 2.0 in Week 33?

8) Can the FHI confirm that no treatments appear to have taken place which would reduce the sea lice count from 10.8 to less than 2.0?

9) Please provide copies of all correspondence, information, reports, telephone calls, faxes received by Marine Scotland in relation to sea lice counts on West of Burwick salmon farm.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

Responses to your specific queries are provided below taking each point in turn. In addition, extracted information relevant for West of Burwick, from copies of sea lice notification forms is provided within a separate document, along with some email communications concerning sea lice notification.

Please be aware that, in some cases, the explanations given to queries raised are the understanding of Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). In that regard, they may not necessarily have been verified by the company and in line with our operational procedures it may not have been considered necessary to seek such verification in this case.

1) Please explain why there is a variance in the data published by the FHI as at 31st Aug and 29th Sept?

It is our understanding that the data uploaded as of 31 August was the average sea lice count post treatment for that period. Subsequently, the data published as of 29 September was an average for the entire week and was inclusive of pre and post treatment sea lice counts. Calculating averages from two different data sets explains any variations and the updated information provides a more accurate figure in terms of average weekly count for the period.

2) Why was the sea lice count of 10.8 not included in the earlier published version of the report for Week 32? Yet the following two weeks did have data present.

The data was not submitted for that week at the time of publishing. The reason why the data was not submitted at that time is unknown.

3) Can you confirm that West of Burwick salmon farm withheld the sea lice count of 10.8?

No, the FHI cannot confirm this.

4) On what date was the FHI first notified of the sea lice count of 10.8 for Week 32?

The FHI are unable to confirm this as the data was submitted via telephone communication and we do not hold a record of that communication, or when it was received.

5) Why were the sea lice counts for the following weeks 33/34 also subsequently amended?

It is our understanding that the original data was submitted by a staff member who was providing cover for the individual within the company responsible for the submission of such data. On return a correction to the data was made to include both pre and post treatment count data and therefore providing a more accurate weekly average for the site.

6) Please provide copies of the information that the FHI received that allowed the sea lice counts to be amended in weeks 33/34.

As per point four above, this information was received over the telephone and was transcribed directly into the FHI’s working spreadsheet holding sea lice count information. We do not have any further record of this information.

7) What steps did the FHI take to establish how the operator reduced the sea lice count from 10.8 in week 32 to below 2.0 in Week 33?

The FHI were informed by the company that the West of Burwick site was being harvested out. In addition, freshwater treatments were also being conducted on site.

8) Can the FHI confirm that no treatments appear to have taken place which would reduce the sea lice count from 10.8 to less than 2.0?

It is our understanding, from communication with the company, that freshwater treatments were being applied which would have contributed to the reduction in the sea lice level on site, at that time.

9) Please provide copies of all correspondence, information, reports, telephone calls, faxes received by Marine Scotland in relation to sea lice counts on West of Burwick salmon farm.

As explained above, much communication in relation to this matter was carried out by telephone. The information provided in these conversations was added to the sea lice spreadsheet, and this is the only record retained. We have also attached some further email communications relating to this particular fish farm site and subject area relevant to the time period of your request.

In addition to the above I can advise you that an Advisory Letter Regarding Sea Regulation was issued to Grieg Seafood Shetland Ltd in relation to the site and time period of your request as detailed above. Information concerning this has been the subject of a previous FoI request (FoI/19/02212), has been released to you and made publicly available on the Scottish Government website:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/?publicationTypes=foi-eir-release&page=1/

You will also note that some redactions have been applied to the information provided to you. In addition, we do not hold some of the information you have requested. The reasons for the application of these redactions and why we don’t have this information are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annex - Reasons for not providing information
An exceptions applies: Regulation 11(2)

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

About FOI
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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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Edinburgh
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